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Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

January 9, 2013

Quick + Healthy Budget Friendly Meals

I do not get to share as many quick and healthy meals as I would like to here on the blog.  Because I have been so wrapped up in adjusting into a new home and city, there are so many other things I end up writing about.

If you follow me on Instagram, however, you will see a lot of my daily creations and recipes posted there.

It is hard to explain what I do to new friends.  A lot of the time, I say I write a healthy living blog, and get a cocked head and a confused look as a response.  If I could, I would include at least one quick and healthy meal into my posts every day.  Unfortunately, things like entertainment, events, holidays, and even fashion recaps tend to take over.

Eating healthy is a choice.  It is also takes a commitment to make it a lifestyle.  We all have our moments of weakness and indulgences, and I will never deny you of that.  Instead, I am here to show you that eating healthy does not have to be complicated.  With the right outlook and products, it can also fit into your budget.

Today, I am sticking to my healthy living blog focus and am highlighting five super simple, quick, and budget friendly meals you could easily replicate to keep your every day healthy diet on track.

healthy 5 minute budget friend

Just in time for lunch!

“Subway Inspired” Deli Chicken Wrap

I admit that I have a slight addiction to Subway sandwiches.  Getting to go in and order a sandwich with the option to add endless veggies is so enticing to me!

It may sound weird to some, but there are times I literally add every veggie possible.  That, my friends, is called “the works.”

I did not get to hit all of them at home, but nevertheless the wrap below is in fact inspired by my favorite healthy Subway lunch.

subway inspired turkey wrap

Instead of bread, I used a fresh tomato basil tortilla sent by a sweet Housewife Glamour reader from Tortillas Nuevo Leon.  (Thanks Olga!)

To replace the dressing, I smeared a hearty helping of Sabra Spinach and Artichoke Hummus and filled the rest right on top.

While I usually use turkey, I mixed it up by using deli chicken as my meat.  Putting a serving (or two) of that down first, I topped it off with romaine, cucumbers, tomatoes, pickles, and black olives.  If I had more vegetables around like onions, jalapenos, and green peppers, I would have added those as well.

subway inspired wrap

Served alongside two cuties, this has been one of my latest repeated go-to lunches at home.

Organic Burrito

There is no denying that both Scott and I have a love for Mexican food.  The only problem with that is it does not always love us (and our waistlines) back.

While recently perusing the freezer section of the grocery store, I was excited to find a new solution to our burrito cravings: Amy’s Natural and Organic Burritos!

One of my favorites is the Black Bean Vegetable burrito, with only 290 calories, 8 grams of fat, 8 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber.

There are 45 grams of carbohydrates, but I have a feeling that number is inevitable with almost any type of burrito out there.

Amy's Organic Burritos

To make it feel a little more homemade, I like to add a little bit of salsa and shredded cheese to the top.

When it is almost ready, I sprinkle a little just long enough to melt everything together.

organic burrito

This one is definitely husband approved!

Fiber/Protein Cereal with Fresh Fruit

You might be thinking that cereal is an obvious choice here.  I wanted to include it on the list of meal ideas to share a side that provides enough fiber and protein to last you until the next meal.  A few favorite brands of mine are Fiber One, Cascadian Farms, and Kashi GO LEAN cereals.

I know some of you might be thinking… “Fiber cereal? You are officially eating the breakfast of my grandparents,” but let me assure you they are not all that bad.  In fact, they are pretty darn tasty!

Moreover, one single serving of the Kashi GO LEAN Original cereal below supplies 40% of your daily fiber needs and 20% of your daily protein needs.

Go Lean crunch cereal

Top it off with slices of banana, and/or fresh berries and you have one well balanced breakfast to keep you full and power you through your day!

Healthy Turkey + Avocado Wrap

Wraps are so easy to make and load up with healthy ingredients, so I had to include another.

This time I used Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus to line my tomato basil tortilla (again, thanks to Tortillas Nuevo Leon!).  I used a Cajun deli turkey as the meat and topped it with baby greens, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, red peppers, avocado and ground pepper.

healthy turkey and avocado wrap

I love to mix up what kind of meat I buy at the deli counter at the grocery store.  If you are ever bored with your sandwiches or wraps, try a new meat and/or cheese!  A little variation goes a long way.

To complete the meal,  I sided my plate with a serving of low-fat cottage cheese and a handful of fresh strawberries.

healthy lunch wrap

Fresh and delicious.

Black Bean Burger Salad

If you are a long time follower of the blog, you have seen me write about MorningStar Farm products.  From their veggie burgers to meatless breakfast meat, I am completely obsessed!

At any given time, I would say I have at least five to eight boxes of different products in my freezer.  Possibly ten.

When it is late and I am wanting to stay on track withe healthy eating, I will often make a salad with whatever vegetables are in the refrigerator and add a veggie burger or Chik Pattie for some protein.

This time, I chose my absolute favorite: the Spicy Black Bean Burger.  I first lined my bowl with a mix of baby greens and romaine, then added sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, and black olives.

black bean burger salad

Do you notice a repetition in my vegetables?  That is the beauty of how much you can do with one trip to the produce section.

Occasionally, I will spice it up by adding canned corn, peas, chick peas, and even black beans to my salads.  This time, I chose to keep it simple and finished it off with a drizzle of oil and vinegar for dressing.

And there you have it!  Five quick and healthy meals you can turn to in five minutes or less.  Instead of driving thru for lunch, I challenge you to use this list as inspiration to think ahead and purchase healthier alternatives on your next trip to the grocery store.  Any one of you can do it! :)

Question of the Day

• What are some of your quick and healthy go-to meals?

January 4, 2013

DIY Holiday Letter Christmas Card

Today is the official start to the New Year in our household.  Although celebrating the countdown on New Year’s Eve was a good start… it is not until all of the Christmas decorations are out of the house that I feel like the new year has begun.

Most years, I drag the process out as long as possible.  There is just something about having a sparkly tree in my living room that makes waking up and spending time at home a little more enjoyable.  If I had my way, our tree would be somewhere in the house – perfectly hidden, but perfectly visible to me – year round.

Judge if you want, but it looks like I am not the only one who feels this way!

Aspen in Christmas decorat

I knew Aspen and I have always had a special connection.


Now that everyone seems to be getting out of posting about the holidays, I figured I would close my series with a little DIY project.

Since getting engaged, Scott and I have wanted to send out holiday cards, but never get around to actually doing it.  Every time I address a large number of envelopes, we get a handful sent back to us in the mail.  No matter how many times I check addresses with the intended recipients, there are always a few that slip through the cracks, and there is a part of me that feels like I have failed.  It is super disappointing!

This year, however, I put the fear aside and dedicated a few afternoons to putting our own spin on a holiday card together.

DIY Holiday Letter Christmas Card

This is our first Christmas together outside of where Scott and I met and got married in Orlando, Florida.  A lot of changes happened in our lives in 2012, and it was too difficult to choose just one or even a few photos to show everything we are up to in our new home and city.

Enter… the catch-up letter and photo collage!

DIY Holiday Letter Christmas Card

In just under a page, we typed up enough paragraphs to share our journey with collaborating photos to tell the story.

We sent out about 150 cards, and spend around $120 – including $60 just on postage alone.

What You Need

• Photo Collage – made by you, printed out at a copy store

• Holiday Letter – typed by you, printed out at a copy store

• white business envelopes – regular, or self-adhesive

• self-adhesive seals (optional)

• stamps

• time and patience

Before you get discouraged, please know that making a photo collage is easier than you think, thanks to a little friend of mine called PicMonkey.com.  It is a free online photo editing website that allows you to edit photos, create collages, and add cute graphics and text.

If you are feeling a little overwhelmed… stop.  Take a deep breath in, then exhale.  Have some patience and you too can make your own fun holiday letter and photo collage!

Okay, are you ready to try?  Let’s do it!

Step 1: Make your collage.

Before starting, I pulled handful of photos I wanted to use by dragging them to my computer desktop.  This makes finding them a very easy thing to do.

I have yet to figure out how to make a collage and add text in the same place, so for this purpose I am going to explain how to do it in two steps.  Let’s start with the collage.

• From the main menu on picmonkey.com, it gives you the option to Edit a Photo or Create a Collage.  Click Create a Collage.

• At the top of the screen you will see the word Open, click that and select all of the photos you would like to add to the collage.  You can always go back and add more if you are unsure.

• Select what layout you would like to work with on the left sidebar.  There are a lot to choose from, and you can always tweak the number of photos and positions by dragging them around.

• Start dragging your uploaded photos over to the empty spaces.  You can move the order and positions around, add more, and delete photos wherever you like.

I knew I wanted to add text to my collage, so I purposely added a photo to the right side of my collage, then deleted it to keep the white space available.

how to make your own christmas card

This is where you can also play with the coloring and edit the photos.  When pleased with the positioning, name and save the photo to your desktop.

Step 2: Add text and graphics to your collage.

Now that you have the base of your photo, you can easily embellish it.

• Return to the main menu on picmonkey.com.  This time click Edit a Photo.

• Upload the collage you saved to your desktop.  It will pop up on the main screen.

• Take a look at the left sidebar.  It is full of options to add graphics, text, and even borders to your photo.

• Around the holidays, there coordinating themes you can access as well!  That is where I found the mistletoe and holiday fonts.

Take your time and enjoy the process of learning the program.  After using it a few times, you will become a pro and look for any excuse to go on the site. (I do!)

Since I wanted to write a letter, I made my collage horizontal and narrow in order to fit it into a tri-fold.

Christmas Card 2012 with t

• When you are pleased with your work, save the image again onto your desktop.  Double-click to open it up and preview.  If it looks good, go ahead and save it to a portable disk or zip drive.  It would also be a good idea to save a second version as a PDF or JPG file.

Step 3: Write your letter.

• I used good ‘ol Microsoft Word to create a document.  I made sure to stay on one page and choose a font that could be read on multiple computers – just in case the copy store computer did not recognize it.

• Print it off and proof read. (Trust me!)

• If everything looks good, go ahead and save it to a portable disk or zip drive.  It would also be a good idea to save a second version as a PDF or JPG file.

Step 4: Print out your photo collage.

I am not one of those people who tries to print everything out on my own, using my own printer ink.  If you are, by all means – go for it!

If you are not, find your nearest copy center or Fed Ex Office/Kinko’s.  I promise it will be worth the trip.

Do not be afraid to ask for help when you get there! Explain exactly what you need and the staff can help you.

• Ask them to re-size your photo image to be able to fit three per page.

• Print out your now three collages to one page photo on a nice sheet of printer paper.  You can choose to use photo paper, but I found a thick sheet of computer paper worked just fine and dramatically cut down on cost.

Make your own christmas ca

Use the paper cutter or scissors to cut the photo collages down.  It is a lot easier to just get it done while you are there, instead of putting it off to do at home later.

DIY holiday cards

Step 5: Print out your letter.

You can actually have this done while you are there cutting photos.  Choose which paper color you would like to print on and ask them to print out however many you desire.

holiday card letter

While a big stack of paper to fold would entertain me for a while, I asked if they could throw it in their paper folding machine and turn on the tri-fold setting.  At most, this costs an extra $5.

trifold letter machine

Worth. Every. Penny.

Step 6: Assemble and seal.

I deliberately made this trip to the copy store before getting new tires put on my car.  Right there in the dealership lobby, I spent a good hour putting everything together.  That, my friends, is what you call using your time wisely!

Open paper, insert photo, close paper, stuff in envelope, seal.

You do not have to use envelope seals if you already have self-adhesive envelopes.  I like to use these silver heart seals from JoAnn‘s.

cute envelope seal stickers

Stuff, seal, and forget about it.

heart envelope seal

An easy way to dress it up a little.

Step 7: Sign, Stamp, Deliver.

All that is left is what you would have to do with any mail to deliver: address, stamp, and deliver.

Since we just moved, I made it easier on myself by ordering return address labels right there at Fed Ex Office.  One of these days I am going to input all of my addresses into the computer so I can make labels for recipient addresses as well.

chrismas card stamps

One day.

Like I said, more than a handful of these got returned to us… so if you are wondering where your holiday letter was, you might want to shares an updated address with us. ;)

Hope you and yours (for the last time this season!) had a wonderful holiday and the happiest of New Years!

in the snow

Happy Holiday Letter Christmas Card making in 2013!

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Although I am a certified personal trainer, the workouts I post are what work best for me and might not be the right type of exercises for you.

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